Make Kilgore Shine

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(Reprinted from Kilgore News Herald)

It’s almost time to push the Reset button.

Granted, wiping the city’s streets clean each year isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, and Kilgore Improvement & Beautification Association needs some help once again to Make Kilgore Shine.

This year, the annual citywide clean-up is set from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 8.

It’s a carefully-chosen date, KIBA President Gene Keenon reminded his board Monday, strategically set after the East Texas Oilmen’s Chili Cook-off and before the slew of holiday season activities kickoff downtown.

“That’s by design,” Allied Waste’s manager of municipal and government services said.

For the past 21 years the chili cook-off has been drawing thousands of people downtown the first Thursday of each November. Last year’s event included an estimated 10,000-plus guests on Commerce Street in addition to more than 100 cook-teams.

A successful event that draws a huge crowd also includes a huge amount of trash, and some of it always escapes notice despite the best efforts of organizers, volunteers and city personnel.

Just in time, Keenon added, for the winter rush.

From Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation’s Derrick Lighting Ceremony (Nov. 20) to the Kilgore Main Street Mingle & Jingle (Nov. 29), the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade (Dec. 2) and other holiday happenings, the community’s civic organizations and residents bring thousands of people to town at year’s-end.

For Make Kilgore Shine, “The primary areas we want done are entryways and the downtown, places where people are going to be converging” in the following weeks, Keenon explained. “But if people want to do their neighborhoods, that’s fine.141015 Hispanic Heritage (6)2

“We’re not going to be able to clean up the whole city but this is awareness. That’s where we fail sometimes: there’s not enough awareness.”

Litter often becomes just a part of the background, he added, but it’s a pervasive problem.

“We just get so accustomed to it we don’t see it.”

Dedicated each year to the late Debbie Phillips, who helped push the annual anti-litter campaign until her death in June 2011, individuals or groups can sign up for the volunteer effort by calling Keenon at 903- 986-5318.

Helpers should reserve their clean-up area as soon as possible, he noted. If they have no particular zone in mind, “They can contact me and then I’ll work out the mapping.” The regular crew is varied and last year broke records with more than 450 volunteers in 17 groups, from young students to collegeaged workers, singles, couples, families, church groups, school clubs, civic organizations and more.

With sponsors’ contributions, KIBA purchases the day’s trash bags (about 400 were filled in November 2013). Volunteers are asked to bring their own gloves. In case of a rain-out, Make Kilgore Shine will be rescheduled for the same time Saturday, Nov. 15.

Sign-ups are also available online through KeepKilgoreBeautiful.org. For more information or to help sponsor the event, e-mail gkeenon@republicservices.com.

 

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